cat coughing - yearly event?

Sarah ManolisSarah Manolis San FranciscoMember Posts: 148
edited 19 December, 2013 in Cat Health
hi all, starting in the night on wednesday, zelda starting having a dry, hacking cough. it lasted 15-20 seconds and it sounded like she was trying to work up a hairball. she did it once or twice the next day (thursday), twice thursday night, and then three or four times today (friday). it's always a 15-20 second stint and nothing ever comes up. nothing in her diet has changed. there's no watery eyes, mucous, or loss of appetite. it doesn't sound wet. the reason i come here is because this happened to her exactly a year ago. and when i say EXACTLY a year ago, it was this time last year! i thought it was because of some bleach i used on the tub, maybe the fumes irritated her, but could it be seasonal? last year, we took her in to the vet and the vet was able to observe the cough. she didn't seem concerned and since her attitude / habits haven't changed, we just played it by ear. it went away after a few days. now that it's back, has anyone had experience with seasonal coughing? is this a sign of mild asthma? she literally has not coughed a DAY since the bout last year, so it's strange to me that she'd start again, a year to the day. if it continues into next week, we will obviously take her in, but just wanted to know, for peace of mind's sake, whether anyone else had some experience. thank you! -z

Comments

  • Sarah ManolisSarah Manolis San FranciscoMember Posts: 148
    edited 15 December, 2013
    just wanted to update: zelda has a vet appt tomorrow at 2:30. still coughing every few hours, but no other symptoms. i've got it on video to show the vet. i need to stop being such a worrywart, but it's hard when your pet can't vocalize what's wrong! - z
  • Greg StawinogaGreg Stawinoga So. HollandMember Posts: 1,000
    edited 15 December, 2013
    sammie has asthma. how we found out was thru blood work and x-rays. ask your vet about both. our vet said, the x-rays need to be taken within 24hrs of the last coughing attack, cause evrything throat and lungs are still inflamed. hope this helps. trust me, you are not the only worry wort on this site. keep us updated. purrs sammie
  • Heather ThompsonHeather Thompson BountifulMember Posts: 3,652
    edited 15 December, 2013
    Do you have a live christmas tree? Maybe your kitty is sensitive to it. You don't see the coughing any other time of the year? I was going to suggest Asthma but it would happen more often than once a year I would think.
  • Sarah ManolisSarah Manolis San FranciscoMember Posts: 148
    edited 15 December, 2013
    Sammie and The Thompson -- Last year, I had just cleaned my bathroom and she started coughing that night. I thought it was because of the fumes because I'd caught her in there (little bugger pushed the door open!) and had to rinse her paws off. She has not so much as HUFFED since this happened, so a few nights ago, when this started again, I remembered it was right around this time. I don't have a Christmas tree and can't really think of what could've irritated her, other than I did brush her teeth the first time the day it started with cat toothpaste. She was just admitted to the hospital last July for four days due to lily ingestion. She got several blood chem panels and urinalyses and they said she was "pristine" upon discharge. Yesterday was probably her worst day. She did a hacking cough every two hours. That was when I made her appt. The vet said it wasn't worth emergency fees since she's not in distress and is still eating/expelling normally. I did sit in the shower with her for about 20 minutes as I've heard the steam alleviates coughing. Today she's only coughed twice (once this morning and once this afternoon) and is much more active. I'm still taking her in tomorrow for peace of mind. I also caught one of her coughing bouts on film, as I mentioned, so hopefully this will give some insight. I read a lot about heart disease that scared the bejesus out of me! Her appt is tomorrow at 2:30, so I'll keep you guys updated. Thank you again!! -z
  • Sarah ManolisSarah Manolis San FranciscoMember Posts: 148
    edited 16 December, 2013
    Update: The vet said her heart and lungs sounded good. No fever. Weight was good. Thankfully I was able to have the same doctor see her as last year. She said she'd seen a lot of cats in the past couple weeks with coughs, so it could just be the cold, dry air. To rule out asthma / seasonal allergies, they kept her for the afternoon to do an x-ray and bloodwork. She said that if it's asthma, judging by the way she sounds and her history (aka: one episode a year), it would be very mild and it's better to rule it out now than to let it get progressively worse (and more expensive). I'll give an update once I hear from the doc and pick her up in a few hours. Paws crossed for a simple fix! :) -z
  • Sarah ManolisSarah Manolis San FranciscoMember Posts: 148
    edited 16 December, 2013
    Heard from the vet. They did an x-ray and saw inflammation that led them to believe it's asthma. They're going to send her home with steroids to take. She also said that Zelda's heart shape was a little wide, so she's running a blood test to check for peptides that may indicate whether or not she has heart disease. I was totally not expecting this and this was my worst case scenario so I'm feeling a little scared. Depending on how that goes, Zelda may need an additional ultrasound to see the extent of any potential heart issue. I asked her if she's seen something like this before where it turned out to be nothing and she said yes. She told me that there wasn't evidence of heart failure, but I just can't get terrible thoughts out of my head now. I know it's good to find this out now, but it's just a lot to think about!
  • Greg StawinogaGreg Stawinoga So. HollandMember Posts: 1,000
    edited 16 December, 2013
    Well, you got alot taken care of, and everything you are finding out, you are finding out early. depending how bad his asthma is, its not that hard to control. sammie is getting 1 steriod pill once every 2 weeks right now. come spring, he may go back to once every 3-7 days, depending on how often he has attacks. hopefully, zelda does not anything wrong with his heart. keep us updated. purrs sammie
  • Sarah ManolisSarah Manolis San FranciscoMember Posts: 148
    edited 16 December, 2013
    Thank you, Sammie. I have a lot of conflicting feelings. 1) First thing she told me was that her heart and lungs (no murmurs, no wheezing, no irregularities) sounded good upon the initial exam. Her weight was good and her temperature was normal. She asked about the coughing and I told her that, after the short bout last year, she's had absolutely no breathing issues / coughing / wheezing / etc. This time was identical -- two or three days of coughing and now nothing. 2) Her x-rays showed 'significant' inflammation of the airways, typically associated with asthma. There was no fluid build up or anything of that sort. She prescribed a 30 day dose of P r e d n i s o n e (1 pill every 24 hours for 10 days, 1 every 48 hours for 30 days.) 3) Her heart looked 'a little wide' on the x-ray. She couldn't be sure if it was due to a heart issue, so she recommended a blood test to check her peptide levels. If the peptides are low, she said, it gives her reason to think it's not her heart. If her peptides are high, she will recommend an ultrasound. 4) Because Zelda handles anesthesia well and had no issue during her 4-day stay for lily ingestion last July, she does not feel that it is heart failure. After hearing all of this, I asked her if she'd ever seen a cat that had a 'wide' heart that ended up being normal and before I could finish, she said yes. She said she's looked at x-rays and could tell right away that it was the heart, however, Zelda's scans did not elicit that reaction and were not very conclusive. She said she'd feel better confirming it with the tests. That encouraged me a bit, however, I can find nothing online about a 'wide heart'. I'm sure she meant 'enlarged', but maybe not. I feel like 'enlarged' is the common term, so it seemed strange that she wouldn't say that. Perhaps she didn't want to be premature. I've read that p r e d n i s o n e is bad for heart kitties, so I'm a little confused as to why she'd give me a 40 day RX that I'm to begin tonight if she suspected heart issues. I've also read that ultrasounds / EKGs seem to be the way to go for diagnosing heart issues, so I was confused as to why she'd ask for a blood test rather than an ultrasound if she suspected heart issues. I know ultrasounds are $$$, so perhaps she doesn't want to recommend that without better cause. I felt bad because obviously I wanted more confirmation that she's okay, but I realize she can't diagnose anything without going through the proper procedures. I guess I just felt like heart issues were the last thing it could be, so it surprised me to hear the words "heart issues" "heart failure" come up in the conversation. I do feel it's better to be safe than sorry, so no matter what the outcome, I don't regret any of my decisions. Purrs and crossed paws. Thank you, Catster! -z
  • SterlingAndTheSTeamSterlingAndTheSTeam Mount OliveMember Posts: 41,262 ✭✭✭
    edited 17 December, 2013
    My vet always starts with the least expensive tests. Blood tests can eliminate lots of things and narrow the field as to what is causing the problem. I've been going to my vet for almost 30 years, and I feel that just his experience alone can diagnose many illnesses many of which went off in a direction I never even thought of. Zelda's coughing at only a certain time each year sounds like an allergy to something -- maybe just your house being closed up for the winter. Now days, even people have so many more allergies that years ago no one ever had, part of which is because we seal up our houses so well for energy efficiency. My cat, Apollo, used to scratch around his ears and eyes only in August. He would scratch so much he would cause bleeding sores above his eyes. Figuring it was fleas (I would take him outside with me briefly), I made sure he was up-to-date with his flea medication but he still scratched. Dr. Steve checked Apollo over, looked through his fur for fleas, found none and said Apollo was allergic to grass. And only a certain type of grass that seeded in August. So I kept Apollo indoors for the few months that particular type of grass "bloomed", and no more scratching. I certainly don't want to override what your vet is saying. She's taking one step at a time and sometimes an exact cause is never found. That's true with peoples' illnesses too. Be concerned and observant but as long as Zelda acts her normal self and is eating and drinking, you can relax a little more. |:||:||:||:|
  • Sarah ManolisSarah Manolis San FranciscoMember Posts: 148
    edited 17 December, 2013
    Yay, another update: :)) Got a check-in call from the vet. Her initial bloodwork came back great. The bloodwork related to her heart will be in on Thursday. I figured since I had her on the phone, I would be honest, despite how I feel like a worrywart. I told her I googled the heart stuff all last night and scared myself half to death. She told me she didn't want to scare me and that she definitely doesn't want me focusing on the heart disease. She wants me to focus on the asthma (recommended fritzthebrave.com) because that is the source of her cough. She called the "wide heart" an "incidental finding", meaning, while she was checking her lungs, she noticed her heart. She told me that of the two x-rays, one looked completely normal, but the other looked "a little wide". I asked her if that just means enlarged and she goes, "Well, yes, but... it isn't straight-forward in her case. This could just be her normal heart shape," and was very adamant about the fact that she just wants to be sure. She wouldn't feel right taking note of it and not recommending an additional test to be sure. She also told me that a cardiologist comes in and looks at all of their X-Rays every two weeks. He'll be back the day after Christmas, so she said he'll look at Zelda's and we can be extra sure. She also wanted to tell me that after her RX for predn i s one is up, if I think Zelda would tolerate it, it would be best to transition to an inhaler. Since her symptoms are so mild and seasonal, it's better to treat her with that than to keep her regularly on steroids. I know I didn't get a definitive answer yet, but I'm encouraged by the information and just feel better overall about addressing my silly anxieties to her. She was super-understanding. Will continue to update as I know more. THANK YOU SHADE!!! For the sweet, sweet gift. |^| - z
  • Sarah ManolisSarah Manolis San FranciscoMember Posts: 148
    edited 19 December, 2013
    Hi guys, Just wanted to update everyone: Heard back from the vet. Zelda's heart is just fine! Her blood tests came back pristine and the vet was happy to hear that she's responding well to the pred. I feel like a HUUUUUGE weight has been lifted off of me. When you hear "heart disease", your mind goes to the worst places, you know? That being said, we're gonna finish this RX of pred and then go from there on how to maintain/prevent future attacks. She mentioned transitioning to inhaled steroids, but it may be more trouble than it's worth with the frequency of her episodes. It could be that Zelda just needs a pill a week and up it if there's a flare up, but with as much worrying I've done the past couple of days, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. I'm just happy my sweet girl is on the mend. Thank you all for your well wishes, information, and support! - Z ;c;:c9;c;
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